BITE: Let’s Do Some Application…

​ I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 
Ephesians 4:1 [ESV]

In the first half of this letter, Paul talks about the core elements of the church’s identity. We now start the second half of Ephesians which is all about ‘Application’ so for the Quiet Times for the rest of this letter, I will share the application I take away to my own life from each day’s passage. — Fair warning: this will go slow as I can’t even read one verse without stopping and seeing what I need to take away from it. —

For most of Paul’s ministry he was under some type of bondage in jails or on the run for what he was teaching. So much so that he identifies himself as such, a prisoner. As he opens, Paul exhorts us to ‘walk’ in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. Walk is translated in some versions as ‘leading a life’ or ‘living a life’ worthy…but I think that misses out on the ‘Step-by-Step’ aspect of walking. Our process of sanctification is exactly that, a journey of steps that lead to place of being closer to looking like or resembling our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The calling – so what was that again? Well, back in Eph 1.:18 Paul tells us.

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 1:18 [ESV]

The ‘Calling’ is the Hope we receive in and through the Gospel. When we listen to what the Gospel says in Who God is, who we are relative to God’s Holiness, and what Jesus did for us because He loves us, it is the hope of eternal life, saved from a destruction and punishment we deserve. So, the life we live as a step-by-step process should be reflective of that gift we have been given in Jesus.

Application:

Every day of my life must begin with an acknowledgement of the Hope God has called me to through His grace and love. If I start every day this way, then I have an automatic heart condition that is bent toward a gratefulness of what the Lord has done for me. I am nothing, He is Everything. It is because of Him that I am something and that something is an identity IN Jesus. When the God of the universe looks at me, He sees the face of His Son. I have been bought with the ultimate price and my service should be to the One alone Who gave everything for me. That heart condition is powerful! It will affect my tone with my kids, my wife, my friends, my co-workers, and the church body God has called me to guide, guard, and grow.

Today’s Psalm:

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalms 34:15-18 [ESV]

BITE: Alignment is Power…

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 [ESV]

The whole of this 3rd chapter of Ephesians has so much packed into it, passage after passage; building on each preceding block of thought. First, Paul talks to the reader about his calling to the gentiles. Then he prays that the church at Ephesus would be strengthened through His Spirit in their inner being. Then drawing on that strength to under the love of Jesus so that they would be filled with the fullness of God. Finally, we come to the last 2 verses in this chapter.

These last 2 verses draw our attention to the goal of being filled with the fullness of God…it is to Glorify God above all else. Now TO HIM Who can do far more than we can ask Him or even think about. TO HIM be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever.

So, in the end, when we align ourselves with the love of Christ, to share that love in service to others, and when we give God all the glory…that is where the real power comes. God’s will can then be completed through us. When we are aligned, our thoughts and desires are God’s thoughts and will. No matter what circumstance or situation we find ourselves in, even if it feels unfair in a ‘worldly’ sense, we will know in our hearts that the Lord is working in and through our circumstances and situations toward His will and purposes. We rest in freedom with our minds and hearts focused on the eternal life we will have with our God and Savior in Heaven.

Today’s Psalm:

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Psalms 34:11-14 [ESV]

BITE: Sophie’s Life Passage…

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 [ESV]

First things first -> BELLA IS HOME! We picked her up from the airport last night and then had dinner all together at McD’s. All of Bella’s sisters were so anxious to see her. Since Marianne and I just got to see Bella in Guatemala, we got all our tears out then but see the love of these girls for each other made us well-up again. So excited to spend some time together with her as a family, love on her, and hear all the stories of her trip to Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, and Guatemala.

Today’s passage is Sophie’s life passage. When I really started into memorizing scripture, committing my family’s life verses was the first thing I did. We start here from my previous quiet time’s passage which is the start of Paul’s prayer, on his knees before God, asking for strength in the Spirit that has been placed in our inner being. So that, “Jesus might dwell in our hearts through faith.”

I really like the building of this prayer with steps that precede one another.

  1. Indwelling of the Spirit (vs 16)
  2. Jesus dwelling in our hearts through faith (v 17)
  3. Rooted and grounded in love (v 17)
  4. Produces strength to wrap our brains around the totality and greatness of the love Jesus has for us (v 18)
  5. Which in turn helps us ‘know’ the love of Jesus which cannot be understood with just human understanding (v 19)
  6. So that -> we may be filled with the fullness of God. (v 19)

Throughout my Christian walk, I have seen these play out. The important part of reading these verses is that we must stay true to God’s Word in obedience, trust, and love for more knowledge of Him. When we let the idols of this world creep in with prominence, this chain is broken and we must start back a number 2 again…inviting Jesus to have ownership of the desires of our hearts.

What step are you at in your walk as a believer? Have you accepted Jesus to receive the indwelling of the Spirit? Have you surrendered your life and heart to Jesus? Is your faith grounded and anchored in a love for Him? Has your love for Jesus grown because of the ability to understand the greatness of His love for you? Because you now know how undeserving you are of the grace and love you have been given, had your life transformed in a love for others? In service to Jesus in love, have you experienced a filling of the fullness of God?

Today’s Psalm:

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Psalms 34:8-10 [ESV]

BITE: His Spirit in My Inner Being…

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Ephesians 3:14-16 [ESV]

These next 5 verses of Ephesians are very important and significant for me and our family. I will explain more on that tomorrow. The big takeaway from these verses today is that whole aspect of the opportunity we have to receive strength and power here in this life through God’s Spirit Who lives IN us. You might notice that in my posts I tend to capitalize ‘in’ often. That is because that little word is so important in understanding what we have in our Salvation -> a power given by the grace of God to overcome whatever this world throws at us. That power comes through God being in us.

When my inner man was recreated (reborn) at the time of my salvation, that part of me was reconciled to God forever. At the same time, that part of me exists in this carcass of flesh here on earth. While my inner spirit desires to be with God, my flesh desires the things of this world. What is available to me is a power from God through His Spirit which resides in me to combat the desires of the flesh. When that relationship between my inner man and the Spirit of God Who lives in me, is nurtured, reinforced, and vibrant, there is power and ability to overcome anything this fleshly body tries to subvert in that relationship, and the strength I have to choose against a sinful action, is huge.

Application:

The application is obvious but putting that into practice is predicated on a love for God that is founded in the work He has done for me on the cross. Preaching the gospel to myself everyday kindles that love for my Savior because He first loved me. It is then that my desires are driven to know more about Him, spend more time with Him, and be more like Him.

Today’s Psalm:

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalms 34:4-7 [ESV]

BITE: The Mystery Revealed…

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Ephesians 3:6 [ESV]

Well, I know that it has been a week since I posted. Last week I was working normal office hours from 8am to 6pm and then heading to a test location here in the Puget Sound area to working until 2am before getting back home to bed and back up for work at 8am to start that process over again. It was a big slog, but I was able to catch up on my sleep this weekend and thankful to be back to a normal schedule this week.

I love this passage of Ephesians where we get to see the full nature of Paul’s ministry come to life. Paul the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Israelites/non-Jews) tells the church at Ephesus that Jews and Gentiles are now one big family in the Lord Jesus Christ. For those that accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, reap the gift of sons and daughters of the Almighty God and will inherit eternal life.

One of the theological stances I have heard in the past is that once Jesus came, that Israelites (sons and daughters of Abraham) do not have the promise the Lord gave to them through Abraham in Genesis 17. That the remnant in Israel spoke of in Revelation is only those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I struggle to see this as a firm point for one reason alone; God always keeps His promises. In Genesis 17, the promise is clear and at the same time, through Jesus there is so much more available to the Jews than what they have without Him.

The mystery revealed through the Gospel that Paul speaks of is so powerful. When you read back in Genesis of the promises made to the Children of Israel through Abraham, it is an amazing thing that God would choose a people for Himself. To know now that I have an equal place adopted into that family as a child of the Living God, is so amazing! The Holy Spirit I have received as a believer also provides me with a ‘help’ that assists me in navigating this life before being called home with my Savior.

Today’s Psalm:

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalms 34:4-5 [ESV]

BITE: One with the ‘Children of Israel’…

"For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."
Ephesians 2:14-16

Today I am in the somewhat lengthy explanation that Paul has for how we (Gentiles) are now joined together with Israel; being brought near (or able to enter) into the peace that is in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:11-22). Paul is explaining how Gentiles need to remember from where they came, separated from the promises and protection of God. But now, Jesus has come and not only preached to both Jew and Gentile but in His death, eliminated the wall that had been between them. Jesus had torn down all the laws and regulations the Jews had been living under, now bringing Gentiles into the promise IN Jesus.

This whole passage ends with “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). I see this as meaning that both Jews and Gentiles now make up the “Church Body” in Christ. To the Jews, this was very difficult to digest as their whole lives they had been raised to believe that ‘not being Jewish’ meant banishment and elimination from the peace and relationship with God. In Christ, everyone (regardless of heritage) had equal access to the Holy Spirit through Salvation.

Application:

Before Jesus I was utterly lost. Following on from yesterday’s quiet time, I sit here and preach the gospel to myself. Thankful that Jesus came to live the life I could never live, to die the death I deserve, and in resurrection to be the only One I serve. I love that my Psalm today uses the ‘Our’ and ‘We’, thinking about what I read in this passage in Ephesians today.

Today’s Psalm:

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalms 33:20-22

BITE: A Powerful Word…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 [ESV]

One of the most amazing passages of the bible. These verses wrap up the basis of not only our security but also a blueprint for the life we are to live IN Jesus.

BY GRACE:

…we have been saved. It is out of Gods love for us in unmerited favor, that we have a way out of just punishment of our sin.

THROUGH FAITH:

There is only one medium by which we take hold of our salvation, that is through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is a committed, heart felt conviction that something is true, something will happen, or even that something is happening. Faith is believing on something unseen. Romans 12:3 tells us that God assigns us the measure of our faith. I believe that God grows our faith by revealing Himself and His hand in and through our circumstances, trials, and suffering.

NOTHING WE CAN DO:

There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. we are inherently sinful and there is no way for us in our own power to eliminate that sin.

IT IS A GIFT:

God in His great mercy extends salvation from our sin through the work of Jesus. We can do nothing, Jesus has done every thing. The only action we can do is RECEIVE the gift extended.

GODS GLORY ALONE:

The reason there are no works or any thing we can do is because it is God alone who is glorified. Since all we can do is receive this gift of God, there is nothing of our own action or pride we can hang our hat on. God alone is the recipient of thanks, gratitude, service, and warship because of what HE has done.

WE ARE BORN-AGAIN:

When we are saved, we are given a spiritually infused life that has a capability it previously lacked. God has created us as new creatures with an ability to communicate with Him unlike before our re-creation. Our heart become softened and a desire to simply please God above all else is placed in us.

WE WERE CREATED WITH A PURPOSE:

God’s redemption also comes with a purpose → GOOD works. Good works is a product of salvation, not causing it. Good work is simply living our lives in ways that honor Him. How do we know what honors Him? We seek Him and what honors Him in His word. We follow the guidance of the Holy spirit within us. We are not saved by works → we are saved for works. We are now able to live in the ways God designed.

Application:

There should be a marked difference in the walking I do now compared to the way I walked before God’s gift. God’s grace and power through the Messiah and in the Spirit have made that possible. God has designed a path that He has now equipped me to follow. Am I honoring God in my walk? Have I thrown off boasting? What works for Jesus in light of His instruction and sacrifice am I missing out on completing?

Today’s Psalm:

The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Psalms 33:16-19

BITE: Raised from Spiritual Death…

"and [God] raised us  up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:6-7 [ESV]

This morning I paused here and read it over and over again. One of the things that we have been learning in Biblical Counseling class is that our counselees must have a renewed inner-man before the teachings of God in His word have any impact or effect. When we genuinely accept Jesus into our hearts and surrender our lives to Him, it is God raising us with Christ from spiritual death. The togetherness with the resurrection of Jesus cannot be understated. The concept of our accredited glory is forever linked to who Christ is and what He did for us.

The second thing we must acknowledge here is that God seated us with Christ in the heavenlies. Remember in chapter 1:21-22 where Paul tells everything that has been put under Jesus and for all time….well, that is the heavenly place that we spiritually sit with Jesus and is a piece of the full redemption to come. There is nothing in the earth, heavenly places, principalities, domains, or anything else that is not under the feet of Jesus and we are IN Him. All that we have today in our Salvation, has secured for us the immeasureable riches to come; through the lavish kindness and grace we have because of our position IN Jesus.

Application:

Two things – 1) I need to remember that those who are not raised in Jesus from their spiritual deadness, cannot be expected to respond to biblical teaching or counseling. God must call them to Himself and they must accept the free gift of God’s grace through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. 2) My situation, my circumstances here on this earth are not the end. What awaits me at the end of this age is unthinkable joy and togetherness with my Savior in the light of His glory. What I have to endure here is nothing in comparison. My plight while I am here is to draw as close as I possibly can to my Lord and Savior and be sure that I am taking every opportunity to be used by Him to draw others to or back to Himself.

Today’s Psalm:

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

Psalms 33:10-12 [ESV]

BITE: …But God…

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:4-5 [ESV]

All throughout these first 2 chapters of Ephesians, Paul uses “You” and “Us” as separated groups of people. ‘You’ refers to the Gentiles and when he says ‘Us’ he is referring to the Jews. Next time you read Ephesians, pay close attention when he uses these pronouns and how they are applied.

“But God…” – this is my call out for today. Reading through yesterday’s passage about where I was in my trespasses and sin as well as by my nature being an object of wrath, this is such a huge statement – ‘But God’. In the NIV it is translated, “but, because of His great love for us, God…” However, I prefer, for my own reading to read the ESV version of this passage. Before, I was spiritually dead, being entirely separated from God. I was in a state of depravity that oozed into every decision I made because the desires of my heart were inherently sinful and due to my nature as an object of wrath, I had no means to look to things a different way. But then, God called me to Himself and saved me in the ugly place I was…why? Because of His great mercy and overwhelming love for me…a sinner. He MADE me alive in Christ. “Made” is such an important word because it means only God Himself could do it. Nothing I could have done; no work of my own hands or mind could change my situation, I needed the loving God of the universe to save from from the depths of my sin.

Application:

When I ask myself ‘Why, why would God do this for me; for a creation of his who sinned against Him so much? I am so undeserving of being saved in such a powerful way as being ‘alive’ in Christ.” I am led to the final stanza of this passage -> it is ‘by Grace’ I have been saved. I didn’t deserve what He extended to me; but God in His great love for me…did it. This is the mindset I must walk into every day of my life with. When I think and dwell on these truths, all pride is removed. All entitlements are negated. And I am filled with a gratitude and outlook that makes me like a well oiled tool ready to be used by God to do His work.

Today’s Psalm:

For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalms 33:4-5 [ESV]

BITE: Total Depravity…

​ And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 2:1-3 [ESV]

This weekend, Marianne and I attended the 2024 Biblical Counseling Conference at church. The main subject was “Life Enslaving Additictions”. It was such a great conference and we were given so much information and help in our desire to help others out of exactly what Paul calls out here in the beginning of Chapter 2 of Ephesians. The question that sometimes pops up in discussion is the doctrine of ‘Total Depravity’, meaning – that our situation before Christ is a 100% inability to ‘not sin’. This doesn’t mean that unbelievers don’t do good things, it just means that without being reborn, the ruler of our heart is not the One Who has the power to give us strength to choose rightly. Our hearts are inherently evil. Until the object of our worship becomes the Savior of our souls, we live in a state of ‘lostness’.

Every human being made in the image of God, worships. Yep, you heard that right…we are made to worship. Some worship money, some people worship themselves, and some worship creation. Until we direct our worship to God (the God of the Bible) alone and turnover the kingdom of our hearts to Him, our desires will always be toward the idols we worship. The deliberate choice of anything over the Creator, is in itself ‘Evil’. So, more simply put – until someone realizes their depraved situation and accepts the perfect gift of Salvation by turning their lives over to Christ, every single one of their choices is wrought with danger since they are blind without the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Application:

3 thoughts come to mind as I dwell on the Words of God through Paul.

  • I can never forget from where I have been saved. I must daily preach the gospel to myself so that I am not tempted to feel above those who are in situations of life enslaving sin or other suffering induced through worship of fleshly desires. We are all equally evil in the sight of an Almighty Holy God.
  • God is the Caller of souls. I cannot personally help anyone who is dealing with the bondage of sin in their lives. Only God has the ability to redeem them from their situation and make them ‘new’.
  • I must not get so confident or proud to think that I don’t have to search my own heart minute by minute and listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my heart, and obey what I hear Him saying. Daily structured time in God’s word and a prayer life that cultivates my relationship with the Almighty God of the universe is required if I am to run well, the race set before me.

Today’s Psalm:

​Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalms 33:1-3 [ESV]